Treat Your Head Like Your Legs

I’m a runner so naturally I am very cautious of what my legs are telling me.

Internal dialogue such as “Oh, I have a tightness in my right calf, must give it a roll at the end of my gym session”… is the norm.

I moan when things hurt. I make sure my boyfriend George gets the FULL lowdown on the exact pain points from toe to hip in an attempt to extract a sympathetic nod (or better yet, a bit of a massage if I’m lucky).

The underlying reason behind why I am so attentive and vocal when it comes to matters of “the leg” is because I know that if I were neither attentive or vocal, chances are I would end up putting myself out of running for much longer than it would take for me to simply rest and/or stretch.

You know sometimes you’ll set out for a run and a sudden shooting pain appears that you’ve not felt in a really long time? Well, that’s what it was like getting on the train to work last Thursday. All of a sudden I was met with an intense anxiety. A shooting pain in my head if you like… thoughts were everywhere and nowhere, coming at me from all directions. Mostly telling me to get off the train, mostly telling me I should just go back home, mostly telling me that something bad was about to happen. My heartrate went from 0-100 in a minute.

Therefore, when I felt this niggle in my head last Thursday, I attempted to treat it in the same way I would with a physical shooting pain in my leg.

I tested the waters throughout the day at work (the same way I would slow my “run” to a “walk” if it were physical). I decided to see if I could take things easy enough to be able to host the Run Talk Run in the evening.

The truth was, the anxiety was throbbing along at a rate that I knew if I were to position myself as a “run leader” I could be putting myself entirely out of action for a lot longer than if I were simply to rest my head that evening. I was at risk of burnout.

I put this to the Run Talk Run community. I was honest about my headache – both the physical one that had appeared and the less physical one that took it’s form in anxiety. The advice I received was to REST.

To “chill out” my head, in the same way that we would ice our ankle, foot, quads… [insert other leg part, I’m getting carried away here].

I think that if we are to start treating our mental health with the same respect that we treat our physical health, we need to ACTION THAT SHIT. We need to notice when we’re feeling overwhelmed, low, anxious, manic and say “man I need to ice (chill out) this brain”. Not only when we have a spare evening, but to find the courage to say “I’m sorry, I can’t” when we have commitments too – like I did with Run Talk Run.

I am not happy to have missed Run Talk Run. You know and I know that I LOVE my Thursday ambles with my running warriors, but my goodness I am so proud that I did what was right for me and to set a good example to my runners.


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